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Status, Symbol, and Meaning in the Dian Culture

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image of Journal of East Asian Archaeology

Material symbols are often used to express social differentiation among human groups. These symbols bear meanings related to the ideology of the society. Therefore, the reconstruction of the organization and meanings of status symbols in archaeology is instrumental to the understanding of the working of past social systems. This paper first concentrates on the isolation of the status symbols in the Dian mortuary environment with multivariate statistical methods. It then proceeds to decipher the meanings of symbols based on the iconographic representations depicted on the bronze artifacts. By comparing the social interpretations of the bronze artifacts and the archaeological pattern, we have refined the methodology in the study of Dian Culture.

Affiliations: 1: Harvard University Department of Anthropology 11 Divinity Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, Email:


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